Thabiso’s Dream: to Get an Education
>> Authored by Tess Murphy (Kiva Fellow)
Thabiso is from Kliptown, an informal settlement outside of Soweto. Informal settlements were created post apartheid after blacks were able to move into Johannesburg. People from all over South Africa migrated to the city in search of work, setting up these shacks made with scrap metal. The settlements often have no running water and no electricity.
“I faced many challenges. I am one of seven boys raised by my mother. I often went four days without food. And when I finally got a plate, I had to share it with my brothers. There were also challenges finding education.”
Thabiso recalls how he had to walk more than 5k each day to get to school, without shoes, in the harsh winter or the scorching summer. He studied by candle light at night and often found it difficult to concentrate because he was so hungry. And yet, he was one of the best students in his high school class and was allowed to skip a grade. That’s when he heard about Maharishi Institute, a university that helps students from impoverished areas around South Africa receive a degree.
Thabiso now attends Maharishi as a “Kiva student”. He is funded by lenders around the world who help him to receive an education. His loan pays for his school fees and gives him a stipend to cover transportation to and from school. He is studying for a Bachelor of Business Administration.
When I asked him how the Kiva loan has helped he said, “Well I could still be in Soweto. I could be one of those guys who stand on the corner, smoking and drinking their life away. The loan is an opportunity to be a better man. It’s a hand up, you’re empowering them.”
Since attending Maharishi and taking out a Kiva loan, Thabiso has started a student group called ‘Man-Up’ which helps to raise capital for students who need it. The group volunteers for outside organizations and those organizations pay the group account. Man-Up then distributes that money to students in need. Man-Up also hosts motivational talks for students.
Thabiso dreams to receive his MBA and then go on to run his own management consulting company for informal entrepreneurs. His dream is quickly becoming a reality. Thabiso and another Maharishi student have laid the ground work for their consulting company. After graduation he hopes to go for his MBA so he can run the company full time.
“Helping people is something I’ve always enjoyed.” – Thabiso